Healthy Sleep

Healthy Sleep

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What is healthy sleep?

Getting good quality sleep can help you feel like your best self. Healthy sleep patterns improve learning, memory, creativity, and mood. Healthy sleep also strengthens the immune system and makes it easier to maintain a healthy diet. Sleeping well makes us feel better, more alert, energetic, and better able to concentrate and perform our daily tasks. Getting enough sleep each day is one of the most important things you can do for your health and wellbeing and to reduce your risk for ill-health. Sleep is especially important for children and plays an important role in the growth and overall health of babies and children.
When you aren’t getting healthy sleep, you are more likely to have problems with thinking, concentration, memory, reaction times and mood, all of which make it harder to perform our daily tasks and increase the risks of mistakes, accidents, and long-term health problems.
As such, it is important to know what constitutes healthy sleep. Healthy sleep requires sleeping for a certain number of hours, maintaining a good quality of sleep, as well as sleeping uninterrupted over the course of those hours and doing so with consistency.

Sleep duration

The amount of sleep you get is a key part of healthy sleep. Most adults get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night and older adults over 65 years of age get between 7 and 8 hours. The rapid growth and development of children and teens means that young people need additional hours of sleep, with specific recommendations varying according to age. The table below provides a general guideline for how many hours of sleep are needed for different ages groups to be considered healthy sleep.
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Sleep Distribution by Age (Based on National Sleep Foundation Recommendations)

While these guidelines provide a starting point for healthy sleep, it is important to remember that each person’s sleep needs vary (e.g., genetics, routine, activity levels, etc.).

Sleep quality

In addition to how much sleep you get every night, the quality of your sleep is equally important. Sleep is divided into four different stages across the night. These stages occur in cycles of about 90 minutes. Each cycle includes periods of non-REM sleep, ranging from light to deep sleep, and REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep when our brains are more active, and dreams occur. 
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In order to achieve good quality and healthy sleep, your sleep must be continuous. Sleeping through the night with minimal disruptions or periods of wakefulness is more restorative than having a night’s sleep interrupted frequently or for long periods of time. Disrupted sleep interferes with the natural process of cycling through all four stages of sleep and may keep you from getting a healthy amount of good quality sleep. Often, the quality of your sleep is more important than the duration of your sleep. For example, some people may sleep for 8 – 9 hours but if their sleep quality is poor, they may experience more non-healthy sleep-related difficulties than someone who gets 5 – 6 hours of good quality sleep.

Sleep timing

Another important contributor to healthy sleep is the time we engage in sleep, also known as your circadian rhythm. Circadian rhythm involves the integration of your body’s internal clock and cues from the environment. Light has the biggest influence on your circadian rhythm because it is responsible for triggering the biological processes that cause us to feel awake. In contrast, dim lighting or darkness triggers chemical changes, such as the release of the sleep hormone melatonin, that promote sleep. When your sleep is not aligned with your circadian rhythms, as is the case for many shift workers or people experiencing jet lag, it is typically more difficult to fall asleep, get good quality sleep, and get enough sleep.
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How to achieve healthy sleep?

Healthy sleep can be achieved in several ways. Here at Talking Sleep, we aim to help non-healthy sleepers to get their sleep back on track through evidence-based treatments. A range of tips, tricks, and resources are available throughout our website to help you get started prior to your appointment and/or online sleep program.

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